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 Post subject: 50 kt. Speed Kiting Target - Menta in Top 10 Worldwide
PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2007 3:25 pm 
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Posts: 8233
Location: Florida
Paul doing a run in light winds. He sees a positive spin off from developments for speed runs for lower end kiting in time.

I've been talking to Paul Menta of The Kitehouse on and off about his GPS speed runs down in Key West in recent months. He had a custom board put together by Dereck at DC Boards and more recently had a new hi tech, top secret (not really) board fabricated by some NASA techie up state. The Flats areas at low tide provide some unique truly flat water conditions for record attempts. Waves or even wavelets are not your friends in speed runs. Water depths in the channels can be 6 to 8 ft. but inches over the turtle grass. He tells me that the turtle grass flats can cushion wipeouts to some degree due to all the soft marl and voids. Still, if you find the odd rock out there, ouch!

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The day of the record attempt around dawn. Paul calls this shot "Heaven," wonder why?

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Looking opposite the sunrise, there is this narly system moving by. Apparently this sort of system in Paul's experience in the cooler months doesn't do much but boost the winds slightly. When it goes near land or over warmer water in spring or summer, different story, BIGTIME. Read don't be anywhere near it with a kite under those conditions! Paul calls this shot "Hell," makes sense now. Looks like a shelf cloud to me, these things spit out tornados on land and waterspouts. As a rule in most areas avoid clouds of this type like the plague.

The run shown in some of the still shots and in the video clip occurred around dawn in late February 2007 in the Key West Flats around low tide. The wind was about 25 kts. and there was some storm activity in the distance as you can see in the shots. He was on an 8 m Cabrinha Switchblade II and his speed board.

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Doing a warmup run, only hitting about 39 knots.

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Another warmup shot. Checkout that unusually shaped wake, it tells some of the story about this board.

Paul tells me the most wind he has had on his speed runs to date has been around 30 kts. compared to substantially higher winds used by racers in other parts of the world. Despite this he has been turning in some good times. He is hoping for more wind which along with his new board should allow some faster times. He has been looking around for a helmet suitable for these runs. They have to fit particularly well, have excellent retention and very low drag. All the factors that effect normal kiteboarding can be substantially amplified in speed kiting water wipeouts.

Some of the more common ones can get a bit narly with wipeouts approaching 40 to 50 knots. He usually can feel when things are about to go south. In the case of the wipeout shown on the video clip, he was hit by a gust when he was already on the edge of control. The kite was suddenly carried closer to the zenith, not what you want at speed. Coming from a lot of time barefoot skiing, as the wipeout is looming he leans back on to his back, kicking off his board. This puts him feet up and spinning in something resembling a barefoot water start on spin cycle. So it goes until the kite power eases off.

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Building up speed

Here's a video clip of a recent attempt Paul down on the Flats. The video quality is poor but a still image of the racing area appears below for perspective. At one point he hit almost 54 knots, unfortunately the record is based upon average speed over 500 meters instead of instantaneous velocity which makes it much harder to achieve.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJCVrpLhTPA

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A shot in the area of the speed runs in clear weather for comparison.

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The DC Boards speed kiteboard

Hey Paul, what is it like traveling that fast on a kiteboard? The sensations and sense of fragile stability and imminent wipeout have to be unique.

Good luck and try to stay safe out there.

FKA, Inc.

transcribed by:
Rick Iossi


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2007 9:47 pm 
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Location: Florida
I recently traveled back to Key West, this time by high speed ferry out of Miami. That was so much fun that it will have a post of its own soon. The northeast USA was in the grips of a violent Nor'easter the weekend of April 15, 2007. The tail end of the cold front was about to rake over Key West from the west. Paul Menta figured that as the squall line approached strong winds would be pushed before it. The low tide was to be approaching, so we hit the Flats of Key West for some speed runs. He had his new board, wanted to do some tuning and was hoping for some strong winds to rip with.

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Once we arrived the winds were a bit light, perhaps 15 kts. edging higher. Paul rigged a 12 m Omega and went out with his DC speed board for some trial runs. He had planned on dropping down to an 8 m Omega if the wind really filled in.

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He then changed to his new asymmetrical directional speed board.

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I took both boards out for a time. You really edge the DC board hard while the directional rides flatter. Even though the winds stayed around 18 kts. perhaps a bit higher Paul hit some peak speeds of around 40 kts. It was my first time on the board but I couldn't seem break 30 kts., the shame! It is amazing how you begin to feel 3 to 5 inch wavelets. Wish the tide was lower to smooth out the water even more.

We were wind waiting during which Paul was shooting some stock footage with a helmet cam provided by JonesCAM New York. Michael Jones saw some kiters and wanted to hookup to have them test out his camera systems. I imagine some clips should appear on The Kitehouse's website in time.

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An electric atmosphere, literally!

After a while, one of Paul's instructors asked if he was getting shocked because she was getting zapped on jumps and when pulling on the bar at times. He said, yes, he was getting treated to static discharges too. The sky although gray didn't have any obvious squall clouds.

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Paul rides with the odd shock. The sky is darkening but no distinct storm clouds are visible, yet.

You can see the Legacy, a grounded 156 ft. sailing yacht valued at around $30 M US and entangled by some massive fines in the distance to the right. She was ripped from anchor and dragged over the flats in a Hurricane Wilma's storm surge in 2005. Kiteboarding carried a brilliant photo of Paul riding beside the yacht while the mast and rigging were still attached. Can anyone find a copy of it?

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The Legacy and the channel she created as 125 mph winds pulled her across normally very shallow water in Wilma's 10 ft. storm surge.

More about the vessel and unusual plans to try to salvage it HERE. Paul tells me he came across an unusual help wanted ad for the houseboat "village" that has been created for the salvage crew. Maybe he'll upload it so we can all get a laugh.

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Another concept to free the Legacy. What does Barney eat anyway, must give him a lot of gas.

Started thinking about calling it a day particularly as the wind was easing too. Paul then got a text message from a friend on the island, saying the squall line on radar couldn't be any more red if it had to be and now would be a good time to book into shore. That is what we did. About an hour later Key West was treated to a deluge and pretty impressive lightning storm.

The wind wait continues, the Flats and Paul's speed boards await. Hope we get some good late season winds.


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